Tamsin’s Table, apple cakes and cinnamon knots

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Tamsin Carvan is one of my all time food heroes. In the 15-odd years I’ve been writing about food, cooks and chefs – her approach to cooking, style and generosity of spirit has inspires me more than anyone. I love Tamsin’s seasonal, considered approach to growing, cooking and sharing good food, and I love her dedication to providing a special experience for guests at her long table every Sunday. This is hospitality in it’s truest form. If you haven’t  yet experienced one of the weekly lunches and workshops Tamsin runs from her family’s Gippsland farm, GO (but book early as they fill up quickly).

And so of course, when planning to launch our new podcast My Open Kitchen (whoooop!) Tamsin was the very first person I wanted to interview. She was the dream guest. Thoughtful, generous and full of advice, I’ve listened to our chat many times now and get something new out of each one. Tamsin has some really great ideas about building communities online and consequently your business too. Please take a listen, I found her words so useful.

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I did mention our new podcast here earlier in the week but in case you missed that post, we launched My Open Kitchen last Tuesday and truly, I can’t remember being so excited about a project for a very long time. Episode two is also available now via the website or i-tunes. I hope you enjoy what you hear! I love listening to podcasts while cooking, walking, driving, folding the washing etc etc…such a great way to pass the time.

But for now, I’ll leave you guys with some photos and a recipe from my last visit to Tamsin’s Table.

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Last winter lovely Tamsin asked me to visit and co-host a workshop celebrating the cakes our mothers’ taught us. So I asked if my own mum Annie would come along and we took a bit of a road trip to Gippsland to bake, eat and chat with Tamsin and her guests. Tamsin’s cosy kitchen and that famous table with it’s spectacular views was just about the nicest place I could have imagined spending that cold winter’s afternoon.

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Together we baked my grandmother’s Danish apple cake and cinnamon knots. Here are the recipes below.

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Danish Apple Cake

This sweet cake was my grandmother Helen’s recipe. It’s delicious and makes my kitchen smell just like Gran’s did; so I make it often.

220g softened butter
200g caster sugar
420g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sultanas
4 dessertspoons of demerara sugar
4 cooking apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp ground ginger

Preheat oven to 180C and prepare a 20cm cake tin (grease sides and line with baking paper). Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat again, scraping mixture from down the sides. Once well incorporated, fold through the flour, baking powder and salt.

Spoon half of the cake mixture into the cake tin, top with the sultanas, sugar, apples and sprinkle with the ginger. Don’t worry if the cake batter is quite stiff, more like a pastry dough, just gently press it into place. Do this with the remaining cake mixture, covering the top of the apples, then bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool in the tin for five minutes before turning out to cool entirely on a wire rack.

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Cinnamon knots

This is probably my favourite thing to cook. I love working with the sweet yeasted doughs, love filling my kitchen with the sweet, buttery cinnamon smell of them baking and more than anything, love serving them up to my family. A true labour of love, this is Sunday morning cooking for me, slow and gentle and immensely satisfying. The dough is a wonderful base for all kinds of sweet buns; you can use it to make classic cinnamon scrolls, you can plait it or just use it to make simple sweet buns to serve with jam.

25g fresh yeast
 (or 12g dried yeast)
2 cups buttermilk, lukewarm
1 egg
6 cups plain flour|
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
150g butter, softened and grated or cut into small cubes

For the filling
150g butter, softened, 3 tbsp ground cinnamon and 3/4 cup caster sugar
For the egg wash:
1 egg, 2 tbsp cream and 4 tbsp golden caster sugar

For the dough, crumble the yeast into a large bowl (if you are using an electric mixer with a dough hook – which I really recommend – crumble the yeast directly into the bowl for that) and pour over the warm milk. Whisk to combine, then add the egg, flour, sugar, spices, salt and butter. Bring together and knead, either by hand or with your dough hook for five minutes. This is a particularly sticky dough, but should, after  at the end of this time, be smooth and shiny too. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one to two hours (dough should double in size in this time).

For the filling, place all ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy.

To assemble the knots; roll the pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface so you have a large rectangle, about 30x40cm. Spread the cinnamon mixture lengthways across the bottom half of the dough, then fold the top half down over the bottom so you have a rectangle about 15x40cm. Now for the fun part! Cut the mixture down into strips about 2cm thick each, take the first one and wrap it around your four fingers twice, as you would with string if you were tidying up into a loose knot. Bring the end through the centre of the knot and pull through so you have a round, knot shape. This might take a little bit of practice but if you’re not too fussed about aesthetics don’t worry – they will still taste amazing and after a good eggwash and spell in the oven, will come out golden and gorgeous anyway.

Arrange knots on a baking tray, with a few centimetres between each so they have room to increase in size while cooking. Preheat oven to 180C and set knots aside to rest for a final 30 minutes (to be honest though, at this stage I often leave them for up to a couple of hours and they don’t seem to mind, the dough is fairly forgiving). Before baking, whisk together the egg and cream and brush this gently over the knots, sprinkle with the golden caster sugar and place the tray in your oven to cook for 25 minutes or until the buns are golden. Your kitchen will smell amazing by the way! Serve with cups of tea and/or hot chocolate.

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  1. Tanya Pearson says

    I’ve made a similar apple cake from a Gabriel Gate book, and it was surprising to me how much of a (positive) difference the sultanas made, absolutely delicious. I’m looking forward to trying the cinnamon knots.

  2. says

    Oh I just love your photos, they are just so homey and delicious. I want to pack everything up in my tiny apartment (cat, bf and all) and move to the country. It’d be lovely.

    I also wanted to say that I’ve been listening to your podcasts (at work hehe) and I love them. I’d love to know what cookbooks the inspirational women you interview are currently using or love.. I have started following everyones recommendations on instagram and only just work out what instagram stories was when I heard you mention it… It’s great! I need to update my apps more often 🙂

    Thanks again Sophie, love it!! x

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